Editor's Note: This story was published prior to Thursday night's announcement of the Hallsville-Versailles game being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
VERSAIILLES — For a second consecutive year, the Versailles Tigers enter Tri-County Conference play in desperate need of some positive re-enforcement.
It won't come easy tonight at home as Versailles hosts the Hallsville Indians. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Last season, Versailles opened the season ranked in Class 2 in the Missouri Media Rankings, only to allow a combined 106 points in its first two non-conference games — both losses. Things didn't get much better the following month, as the Tigers dropped their first four Tri-County games.
And this season, although without the lofty expectations, Versailles has lost its two non-league games to open the campaign by allowing a combined 88 points, including last week's 42-14 home defeat to Warsaw.
"If we are going to pattern ourselves after someone, Warsaw would probably be it," Versailles coach Kirk Hannah said. "They are finally hitting their stride. We played better; the things we are trying to improve on, we did. We've just got to get a lot better. Simply, their personnel were bigger and stronger than our personnel. I don't think we'll see very many people as physical and big up front as Warsaw. And we made them drive the ball, we created some things defensively. We just didn't get off the field on third down. We've got to take small steps at a time."
Next up is a Hallsville team that is 1-1, having lost last week in heartbreaking fashion to Centralia 34-28.
It will be yet another challenge for Versailles, which lost to the Indians 50-24 last season.
"I don't know if they're as big and physical up front as Warsaw, but (Hallsville coach Justin Conyers) will have them coached up," Hannah said. "They want to run the ball. They lost a lot of personnel from last year, but their kids will be ready. We want our kids to know we can be competitive with them.
"They've got good skill guys; their quarterback is good and they run the ball hard. They're more of a finesse-type of team."
Last week, Hallsville outgained Centralia in total yards 340-240 despite suffering the loss. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Indians.
"We were leading 28-26 with three and a half minutes left and then fumbled to give them another opportunity," Conyers said of the Centralia game. "We gave up some big plays, but those things are fixable."
Leading the charge for the Indians is junior quarterback Tyger Cobb.
Cobb has passed for 325 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 145 yards and three touchdowns so far this season. A.J. Austen has been his top target with 170 receiving yards, including 107 on six catches last week.
Harrison Fowler paces Hallsville in rushing with more than 200 yards and has also shown to be a receiving threat out of the backfield.
The Hallsville defense is led by the linebacker trio of Trenton Hobb, Colton Hobb and Alex White.
"Defensively they play a three-man front and walk up their outside linebackers," Hannah said of Hallsville. "I think it matches up with our option game. If we can execute our game plan we should give ourselves a chance."
Junior quarterback Adam Radcliff gave Versailles its offensive highlights last week, scoring on a 4-yard run in the second quarter and throwing a 46-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Michael Bell in the third quarter.
"The quarterback they had last year was a stud," Conyers said of Versailles. "And the guy they've got this year is pretty good, too. He has a lot of athleticism. And they're pretty big up front."